Student - July 7, 2010

Skimmed in Stellenbosch


Who? Harriet Tienstra, student of International Development Studies
What? Research on assistance after land reform
Why? Her BSc dissertation was on this subject, and she wanted to see how it works in practice
Where? Stellenbosch, South Africa

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'In the Western Cape in South Africa there are many large farms. To help make black farmers landowners again after the Apartheid era, they get the opportunity to buy shares in the farm they work on. The farm labourers get a government grant from which they can buy shares and get a say in the management of the company. What I have noticed is that although the black workers have a say officially, they often lack the education and the experience to really run a business. They have worked on the land all their lives and then suddenly they go into business and have to be able to discuss complex financial matters. They do get some help in the form of training from experienced landowners, but it is often not enough.
'There is still a sort of apartheid in South Africa. When students are looking for new housemates, they often explicitly ask for white people only. Many black people live in slums, and many whites live in protected gated communities.
'I went along with a South African who ran projects in the slums. Everything went very differently there to the way it goes in the Netherlands; it was very chaotic. At a film evening, for example, it took three hours longer than expected for the film to start because there was something wrong with the equipment. In Holland children would have started grumbling straightaway, but these kids just went on waiting patiently.
'I was 'skimmed' for the first time in my life there. I was getting money out of an ATM, but I didn't understand how it worked because it was all in English. A man came to 'help' me. All of a sudden he grabbed my bank card and swiped it on something. When I went to type in my pin code he was suddenly just behind me and he did something with the buttons on the ATM. A day later I realized all the money had gone from my account.
'Another annoying thing was trying to extend my visa. They were very difficult about it in Stellenbosch, and in the end I tried in Capetown. After queuing for a total of eight hours, I finally had a new visa. Afterwards I realized it expired one day too soon. I refused to queue again so I just queue-jumped and my visa was changed at once - with a ballpoint! Luckily immigration didn't make a fuss about that when I was on my way home.'
 

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